Ndutu Lodge questions

Old Jan 14th, 2008, 10:25 PM
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Ndutu Lodge questions

I've been thinking of a change/addition from my usual Sep safari in South Africa (like this coming Sep 2008). The herd migrations and Tanzania would be one answer . And a safari in the Feb-Mar time frame would fit in pretty good with September safaris.

From the recent threads "Northern Circuit Safari Itinerary" and "South Serengeti Lodges" I'm thinking seriously about Ndutu Lodge for 10 to 14 days in Feb-Mar of 2009 (yes 2009).

I've read everything on Ndutu Lodge web site and have two questions. First, the 2008 rate for Feb-Mar is $326 for double full board. "Double" this means two people, right? (The price is right!!) Added to this is also $50 pppd for park fees, right? (Total is now $426 for two per day, 2008 rates). Second question, quote them "We have 2 safari vehicles based at the lodge, which are available for hire." This means that the above room rate does not include vehicle game drives, right? So, do I hire my own vehicle and guide? Out of Arusha? From a local outfitter? Can I hire a Ndutu vehicle and drive myself? If I have to provide/hire my own vehicle, then I would be interested in sharing a vehicle with other photographers/Fodorites.

Finally, what would be more good game viewing (camp?) in addition to Ndutu? So, if say 12 nights Ndutu another 4 or 5 nights near by? I'm not make the journey to Africa for less than two weeks stay, preferably three weeks.

Many thanks for you help.

regards - tom
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Old Jan 15th, 2008, 01:00 AM
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Hi Tom,
I am going to do this year (Feb 2008) more or less what you are thinking about doing for next year.

My main aim is to get photographs of the herds of Wildebeest and Zebras in Feb when the babies are born. I received an e-mail from Ndutu this morning saying that they had just spotted the first baby Wildebeest yesterday.

I am flying in from Johannesburg and have booked a self drive 4x4 Land Cruiser from an outfit in Arusha. From there is will drive to Ndutu.

With regard to the price queries for the Ndutu Lodge drop and e-mail to Annelies at the Ndutu Lodge who is very helpful.

The park fee system for payment has also changed for self drives recently; they no longer take money at the gate when entering into the Serengeti you have to pre-pay via a local tour company for which they administer a USD 10.00 flat fee.

I will let you know how all went when I get back at the end of February.

All the best

Maurice
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Old Jan 15th, 2008, 02:15 AM
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Thanks Maurice. You will drive yourself around the Serengeti National Park? Or drive where? How much is the Land Cruiser costing? You are staying at Ndutu lodge? Do you plan to drive to Ngorongoro Crater? Yes, please do tell how it goes when you get back. Thanks again.

regards - tom
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Old Jan 15th, 2008, 03:07 AM
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Tom, firstly could not help rolling in laughter when you described the 24 hour activities by lions on my lion density thread

Feb/March 2009, firstly it is extremely difficult to predict the migration... it totaly depends on the rain... also ndutu is on the edge of the park and the migration spills over into ngorogoro conservation area(fees 50$ppp), so prepared to pay 100$ park fees pppday.... secondly include 3-4 camps/lodges in the serengeti... not to miss the migration, spend a week at ndutu and then 3-4 nights at 2-3 other locations like central serengeti, grumeti and the northern area... where the migration tends to stay( as there are rivers and permanent water sources ) if there are no rains in southern serengeti....

Take a good driver/guide with you.... be sure to check your driver's profile ( qualifications,experience etc) and customer reviews.... you could rent one ( all inclusive ) for around 150 to 200$ and maybe even less if you keep the vehicle for maybe more than 5 days


It would be better to fly one way to the serengeti and have your driver/guide meet you or drop you as the drive from arusha is long... spend 2 nights at the crater...( if you have not been there ) would be enough


Any more questions just post....

Sonali
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Old Jan 15th, 2008, 08:06 AM
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Hi Tom,

We spent 12 nights at Ndutu in January the past two years and have 7 more nights coming up in late February.

Going just to Ndutu for 10-14 days would be fine (one guy was there 60 days while we were there, he was doing a film on gazelles), but I personally think it's a bit of a gamble because the bulk of the critters could be spread out elsewhere. One year it was REALLY dry and dusty and we were happy enough to leave after five nights, but last year it was green and lush and we could have stayed longer than seven nights. You never know in advance.

Also, it reads like this is the ONLY place you're going, right? Not sure if you've been to N. Tz before but the other parks are worth a look also as you'll see different scenery and different animals. We usually stay at Tarangire or Manyara the first night because they are close to Arusha (2 hours) and it gives lost luggage a chance to catch up, etc. Then Ndutu for a while, then perhaps central Serengeti, then back to Ndutu, then to either Ngorongoro Crater or Manyara the last night before catching the night flight home. So we always visit at least three of these five areas, which I think is a good way to split it up.

"Double" means two people ... I think the best way to do it is to book an outfitter in Arusha, who likely gets lower rates than this even with a room for the guide/driver. Then drive from park to park. I doubt you want to try to drive yourself around Ndutu. Some of the guides don't go there often so some of them get lost. You can figure out from my posts which company we use.

what would be more good game viewing (camp?) in addition to Ndutu?

There are a lot of posts on this already, a lot depends on your tolerance for crowds (Ngorongoro Crater and central Serengeti are more crowded, Manyara can be crowded in the PM) and whether you want a tent or lodge. Probably combining Ndutu with a tented mobile camp that's a bit north in Serengeti (Moru kopjes, etc) would work well as you get two areas on the plains, then add on time at Ngorongoro crater if you can handle the crowds and high fees, maybe Manyara or Tarangire on the way back to Arusha. This is pretty much what we do except we will be in central Serengeti 3 days too, but at a lodge.

You can email me from links on my website if you want more info. We are leaving for Kenya real soon though.

Bill
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Old Jan 15th, 2008, 09:38 AM
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Tom:

My husband and I had a two-week safari last May in Tanzania, including Ndutu, and talked about going back and doing it self drive (though not common in Tanzania). The whole time we only saw maybe two vehicles doing self drive and did not get a chance to talk to either group (looking forward to Maurice's report). While it is true it is mostly unmarked tracks in Serengeti/Ndutu, if you are comfortable with a good map, compass, GPS and some patience, I don't think navigation will be an issue. When we went, I took GPS waypoints of all the places we stayed and a few other significant places to potentially aid our future navigation.

Thanks for the post. Between you and Maurice, you've got me thinking about this again!

CAH

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Old Jan 15th, 2008, 11:07 AM
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I, too, am interested in the responses to this post. I'm planning a late February/early March 2009 trip.

Tom,
Maybe our paths will cross! I will probably only be in the Serengeti for a week-ten days, though, because I am starting in Uganda and/or Rwanda.

For the Serengeti piece I am going to focus solely on the wildies so won't be going to Manyara, the Crater, or elsewhere. But if you have time, those are good recommendations.

Here's what I think so far, based on having been in the northern and western Serengeti in July (a couple of years ago) and on my preliminary research for my 2009 trip.

I would definitely include Ndutu or a mobile camp or seasonal camp in that area. I would also hedge my bets as Bill_H suggests and move around a little. Also, if you haven't seen the Crater, it is worth a day or two.

I think timing is too early for the western Serengeti such as the Grumeti (although I loved Grumeti) and also for the northern Serengeti. I'd say the same about the central Serengeti, but you never know. However, Sonali is right, the migration is so unpredictable, and the more time you have the more you are able to move around. So my wish to stay in the Ndutu area/NCA/southern Serengeti are based solely on my own time limitations.

There aren't too many lodges in the southern Serengeti, so if you want to stay in that area (as I do), choices lean towards mobile and/or semi permanent camps.

I won't go into information from the other threads because you've read the same ones I have. For best chance of seeing the wildies hopefully in calving season or shortly thereafter I'm thinking mobile may be the best way to go. Ndutu seems like the perfect compliment to keep price in line and still (hopefully) be in the right place at the right time. I am also considering Kusini, SUC/TUC and Nomad.

I should have a more concrete itinerary within the next few weeks. I am traveling with one friend for certain, and maybe two more. If you (or other Fodorites)want to join us, you are welcome.

Sonali,
Thanks for the pricing information. It is very helpful. I'll make sure to confirm which park fees are included in my itinerary.

Maurice and Bill_H,
Looking forward to your photos and trip reports when you return.

GOOD THREAD...KEEP IT COMING!



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Old Jan 15th, 2008, 11:38 AM
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Dana, we will be there the exact time you mention (late Feb - early March) ... hopefully will see more calving than in the late January trips the past two years.

We also gathered 40 or so pics taken while staying just at Ndutu and put them in one spot ... http://www.pbase.com/hilton_photography/ndutu ...

In looking at these it's interesting that there is so much emphasis by everyone on the migration, the migration, the migration, yet there are zero migration shots posted (we have probably seen 2,000,000 wildebeests on our trips to Tanzania) and only four images with wildebeests (in two the wildies are being chased/killed by cheetahs). There is more to life on safari than wildebeests The moments I remember most are the cheetahs, lions, hunting serval, honey badgers, numerous beautiful birds, cuddly baby ellie ... and then maybe the antelope.

Bill
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Old Jan 15th, 2008, 02:35 PM
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Hi Tom,
I have booked 5 nights at Ndutu Lodge.
I will not be going down the crater the fees are now 200 USD per vehicle. I will be going to see a Maasai Chief
I know whose village is on the crater rim. He was attacked by an elephant last year and has still not recovered. His name is Clemence and he has an American accent.

Depending upon the location of the Wildees and Zebras I amy well drive into central Serengeti but I am sure that there will be enough photo ops in and around Ndutu to keep me busy. I am looking for some special pics for the South African Getaway magazine as I have already had some published in the readers gallery past.

It is a bit of a gamble but you can stumble accross the most amazing things sometimes (see link) click on second link or copy and paste

http://www.sanparks.org/about/news/2...06/default.php

I will post a full report upon my return


all the best

Maurice

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Old Jan 15th, 2008, 02:44 PM
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Maurice-

How are you arranging a rental 4x4?
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Old Jan 15th, 2008, 02:57 PM
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Maurice - Amazing sighting at Kruger. What did it sound like? Were you close enough to hear? Do you post photos on -
http://www.outdoorphoto.co.za/cms/ ?
If you were going down the Crater, where would you stay the night before? I agree $200 is a big hit - unless you can split it 4 ways. If you give the Chief a ride can you go down no charge? (Offer to buy him lunch there).

We will remember your promise to post a full report . When will you be back from safari?

regards - tom
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Old Jan 15th, 2008, 03:26 PM
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Tom, Maurice, unless the rule has changed you are not allowed to drive your own vehicle into the crater.

I *think* you can pay extra to the NCA guys for one of their guides to accompany you (you are already paying $50/person to be in the NCA plus $200/jeep to descend, now plus an extra Ranger fee for the guide).

Bill
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Old Jan 15th, 2008, 03:36 PM
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Bill H-
I'm going to be at Ndutu Lodge Feb. 21 and 22. Will you still be there?
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Old Jan 15th, 2008, 04:02 PM
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I'm going to be at Ndutu Lodge Feb. 21 and 22. Will you still be there?

First night at Ndutu is the 23rd so we'll probably pass you on the dusty road somewhere ...

Bill
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Old Jan 15th, 2008, 04:16 PM
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Thanks Bill for yet another set of absolutely incredible photos. I can't wait to see the ones from this year's trip to Ndutu.
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Old Jan 15th, 2008, 05:47 PM
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Hi Bill,
you can still drive your own vehicle into the crater. They prefer that you take a guide with you as they do not want you doing any off roading and a local guide knows where the roads are. You can pick up a guide at the NCCA offices and you pay him what you feel is correct.
I will still have to pay the full fees for me even if I take Clemence as my guide, I do not have to pay for him travelling in my vehicle.

Tom, yes were close enough to hear everything, even the crunching of the lions teeth on the vertebrae.

My vehicle hire is from a local company in Arusha a Landcruiser costing USD 150 per day. I will not mention the company yet until I come back and I can report on their efficiency which is only fair.

If I was going down the Crater I would stop at Simba A public camp site. Unfortunately the facilities there are very poor but it is the least cost option and as a self drive you can be first one down the Crater if you get up early enough.

All the best

Maurice

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Old Jan 15th, 2008, 09:30 PM
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Dana_M, thanks for the 2009 invite, I'll keep it in mind. And please keep me in mind also. This may work the best for me should I go solo on this safari. Even if not solo.

So, anyone, about Tanzania, when you do a safari in TZ it is typically BYOVG - Bring Your Own Vehicle & Guide? Ndutu Lodge, Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Sopa Lodge, they do not have game drive vehicles/guides like I'm accustomed to at South Africa camps?

I was kind of hoping to do the TZ migration thing for around $400 pppn ($800 for two persons). With Ndutu at likely $450 and a vehicle at $200 per day we're at $650 per day two people. Plus park fees. How much additional is a top notch guide per day, including his lodging and meals? Of course to lower cost, sharing the vehicle with two more persons would halve the vehicle and guide cost.

How about working with a local TZ operator, Thomsons?, and having them arrange all of these vehicle, guide, lodges things?

As you see, I'm having some problem getting a good grasp on all of this. It is more than I'm used to doing when going on safari. Which is, fly to safari camp, be driven/guided, fed, and only worry about how the light is going to be for photos

Thanks all.
regards - tom
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Old Jan 15th, 2008, 11:43 PM
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Hi Tom,

I do self drives wherever possible. as a photographer I do not want to get stuck in a vehicle where the general consensus is that breakfast is more important than watching and photographing a very relaxed leopard in perfect morning light. Do not laugh this actually happened to me in Moremi once.

Even in the Serengeti around Seronera the tourist trucks were buzzing about everywhere whilst we stayed put photographing at a very productive part of the river for hours. In their haste to see as much as possible they missed the lion kill that happened metres from our vehicle.

In my opinion I would rather pay a little more to be adventurous, and I also want to be in control of exactly where I want to position my vehicle for that perfect picture, rather than leave the decision to someone else who is trying to squeeze in as many sightings as possible, obviously because more sightings usually means a better tip at the end of the tour.

This is my own opinion and in no way reflects negatively on guests who are comfortable with taking a tour which means sharing a vehicle with others. Each to their own.


All the best

Maurice
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Old Jan 16th, 2008, 04:05 AM
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So, anyone, about Tanzania, when you do a safari in TZ it is typically BYOVG - Bring Your Own Vehicle & Guide?

Hi Tom,

For most people this is the deal, you either meet your driver and begin driving from Arusha or fly into Serengeti or somewhere and meet the guide, then you have the same guide and vehicle the entire trip. If you check the Good Earth page you can see that they put together trips with 6 people (could be three couples) or you can pay a couple hundred more and have the vehicle for yourself (it is FAR better to pay extra and have the vehicle for yourself).

Some of the more expensive lodges and tented camps do it differently, more on the SA or Bots model where there are drivers for the camp and you are transferred between camps/lodges and have a different driver each camp. Often these require you to share the vehicle. But this is the minority in Tz.

I was kind of hoping to do the TZ migration thing for around $400 pppn ($800 for two persons).

This is pretty much what we're paying for a private vehicle/driver and staying at Serena-Sopa-Ndutu lodges. Need to watch the park fees because it costs $300 in fees to go to Ngorongoro crater floor while only $35 for Manyara ($100 for Ndutu, a bit over $100 for Serengeti).

If you can find LyndaS's "East Africa Trip Report Summary" you can get a feel for which companies people are using and whether they liked them or loved them.

Bill
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Old Jan 17th, 2008, 11:15 AM
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Tom,
In response to your question about BYOVG, I have done the opposite, flown from camp to camp and gone on game drives with the camps' guides and vehicles. Maurice is right, though, that you are of course subject to your vehicle mates' desires. And the camps I stayed at were CCAfrica camps and therefore not inexpensive.

I will definitely keep you posted as my plan starts to come together.

Maurice,
Are you driving yourself, or did you rent a vehicle and hire a guide who will also be your driver?

Bill,
Do you rent the vehicle and the guide/driver separately, or together? Do you then pay for your driver/guide's accomodations at each of the lodges? Did you put each of the pieces together yourself or do you have a ground operator put it together for you?

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